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now exposed, was more than he could bear. After combating some time with the agitation of his • mind, he was seized with a slow fever, attended • with a delirium, which made it necessary to ac• quaint his friends. His sister Leonora hastened to • his relief. At the end of some weeks, his health
was so far re-established, that she ventured to propose his undertaking a journey to Scotland: to · which he at last consented, but not without reluc. • tance.
• He learned, by degrees, that the money he re• ceived for the last two years he resided in London, • had come from Leonora ; that she had paid all his
debts there, and with the small remains of her for. • tune, had purchased an annuity of an hundred and • fifty pounds for his and her own life. In a short • time, they retired to a village in the county of not far from
my father's residence, who • had been an early acquaintance of Antonio's. My • father joined his endeavours to those of Leonora to • recover him from that depression of spirits into • which his misfortunes, and the reflection on his past
conduct, had thrown him. They at last succeeded, • and saw him, with pleasure, regain those mild and . engaging manners which they had formerly admired. • But his spirit and vivacity could not be restored. • He seemed to engage in the usual pastimes and
occupations of a country life, rather with patience • than satisfaction, and to suffer society as a duty
which he owed to a sister who had preserved him, • and to those friends who shewed so much so• licitude for his happiness, rather than to enjoy it • as a source of pleasure and entertainment to him. o self. If ever he was animated, it was in the com*pany of a few young men who looked up to him
for instruction. He entertained them, not with murmurings against the world, or complaints of
the injustice or depravity of mankind. His pic'tures of society were flattering and agreeable, as 'giving the most extensive scope for the exercise of the active virtues. • My young friends, he was wont to say, ' carry with you into the world a spirit of independence, and a proper respect for 'yourselves. These are the guardians of virtue. No
man can trust to others for his support, or forfeit . his own good opinion with impunity. Extravagant desires and ill-founded hopes pave
way . for disappointment, and dispose us to cover our own errors with the unjust accusation of others. Society is supported by a reciprocation of good offices; and, though virtue and humanity will 'give, justice cannot demand, a favour, without a recompence. Warm and generous friendships are
sometimes, nay, I hope, often found in the world; 'but, in those changes and vicissitudes of life which
open new views, and form new connections, the old are apt to be weakened or forgotten. Fa'mily and domestic friendships,' would he add ' with a sigh, ' will generally be found the most • lasting, and sincere ; but here, my friends, you • will think me prejudiced; you all know my obligations to Leonora.'
Antonio and Leonora are now no more ; he died ' a few days after my
last visit. His sister he had • buried about a twelvemonth before ; and I have often heard him mention, with a kind of melancholy satisfaction, that, to her other distresses, there had • not been added the regret of being left behind * him.'
N' 72. SATURDAY, JANUARY 15, 1780.
Sunt lacryme rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt.
The consideration of death has been always made use of, by the moralist and the divine, as a powerful incentive to virtue and to piety. From the uncertainty of life, they have endeavoured to sink the estimation of its pleasures, and, if they could not strip the seductions of vice of their present enjoyment, at least to load them with the fear of their end.
Voluptuaries, on the other hand, have, from a similar reflection, endeavoured to enhance the value, and persuade to the enjoyment, of temporal delights. They have advised us to pluck the roses which would otherwise soon wither of themselves, to seize the moments which we could not long command, and, since time was unavoidably fleeting, to crown its fight with joy.
Of neither of these persuasives, whether of the moral or the licentious, the severe or the gay, have the effects been great. Life must necessarily consists of active scenes, which exclude from its general tenor the leisure of meditation, and the influence of thought. The schemes of the busy will not be checked by the uncertainty of their event, nor the amusements of the dissipated be either controlled or endeared by the shortness of their duration. Even the cell of the Anchorite, and the cloister of the Monk, have their business and their pleasures; for study may become business, and abstraction pleasure, when they engage the mind, and occupy the time. A man may even enjoy the present, and forget the future, at the very moment in which he is writing of the insignificancy of the former, and the importance of the latter.
It were easy to shew the wisdom and benignity of Providence, Providence ever wise and benign, in this particular of our constitution ; but it would be trite to repeat arguments too obvious not to have been often observed, and too just not to have been always allowed.
But, though neither the situation of the world, nor the formation of our minds, allow the thoughts of futurity or death a constant or prevailing effect upon our lives, they may surely sometimes, not unseasonably, press upon our imagination ; even exclusive of their moral or religious use.
There is a sympathetic enjoyment which often makes it not only better, but more delightful, to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting.
Perhaps I felt it so, when, but a few days since, I attended the funeral of a young lady, who was torn, in the bloom of youth and beauty, from the arms of a father who doated on her, of a family by whom she was adored : I think I would not have exchanged my feelings at the time for all the mirth which gaiety could inspire, or all the pleasure which luxury could bestow.
Maria was in her twentieth year. To the beauty of her form, and excellence of her natural disposition, a parent equally indulgent and attentive had done the fullest justice. To accomplish her person, and to cultivate her mind, every endeavour had been used; and they had been attended with that success which they commonly meet with, when not prevented by mistaken fondness or untimely vanity. Few
ladies have attracted more admiration ; none ever felt it less : with all the charms of beauty, and the polish of education, the plainest were not less affected, nor the most ignorant less assuming. She died when every tongue was eloquent of her virtues, when every hope was ripening to reward them.
It is by such private and domestic distresses, that the softer emotions of the heart are most strongly excited. The fall of more important personages is commonly distant from our observation ; but even where it happens under our immediate notice, there is a mixture of other feelings by which our compassion is weakened. The eminently great, or extensively useful, leave behind them a train of interrupted views, and disappointed expectations, by which the distress is complicated beyond the simplicity of pity. But the death of one who, like Maria, was to shed the influence of her virtues over the age of a father and the childhood of her sisters, presents to us a little view of family affliction, which every eye can perceive, and every heart can feel. On scenes of public sorrow and national regret, we gaze as upon those gallery-pictures which strike us with wonder and admiration; domestic calamity is like the miniature of a friend, which we wear in our bosoms, and keep for secret looks and solitary enjoyment.
The last time I saw Maria was in the midst of a crowded assembly of the fashionable and the gay, where she fixed all eyes by the gracefulness of her motions, and the native dignity of her mein ; yet so tempered was that superiority which they conferred with gentleness and modesty, that not a murmur was heard, either from the rivalship of beauty, or the envy of homeliness. From that scene the transition was so violent to the hearse and the pall, the grave and the sod, that once or twice my imagiuation